The move to include the new games and offerings has been expected since June when CEO David Baazov said, “With the continuing trend of online gaming regulation around the world, the company has in front of itself an enormous opportunity to leverage its brand recognition and customer loyalty to diversify into other gaming verticals as casino, sports betting, and social gaming.”
Casino games have been offered to Spanish players on PokerStars.es for several months and on Full Tilt (which is owned by the same parent company), since January of this year. The announcement of the roll-out of sports betting and casino games came days after PokerStars Italy market manager stated that casino games would be available to PokerStars’ Italian players.
The first two offerings will be blackjack and roulette, with the roll out set to start immediately. By year’s end, the games will be available to about half of PokerStars’ current players.
Recognizing the value of the poker players which have made PokerStars the largest online poker site with over 120 billion hands dealt, the company has relied on feedback from them in designing the new games.
Head of Corporate Communications, Eric Hollreiser said, “We thoroughly researched the opportunity and spent a lot of time talking to players and analysing the behavior of our customers on PokerStars.ES and Full Tilt. Those launches have been successful in reactivating dormant customers, and extending the value of our existing poker customers. The experience on our poker platforms to-date also shows increases in net player deposits following the addition of casino games and a negligible impact on poker spend. We are confident these games will create more value to our PokerStars site and bolster the core poker offering.”
He went on to say, “We are taking the same principles, practices and integrity that make PokerStars such a successful and beloved brand and applying them to new verticals. These new products will also support the development of poker and grow the overall business.”
For those players who wish to enjoy a poker-only environment, the site will allow players to hide the other components as well as opt out of casino and sports betting announcements and mailings. The company notes that on PokerStars.es and Full Tilt, about 30% of their poker customers have visited the casino section on a monthly basis, with little to no impact on their poker activities.
The site is also designing the new games with their poker playing core in mind. Micro stakes games as low $0.10, unique multiplayer betting structures and social components will be included. The site also notes that their blackjack margin is the lowest in the industry.